Who is your Influence?

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung over at our Five Minute Friday website. Today’s word prompt is “influence.” We would love to have you join us.

There is so much in our world that can influence us….music, art, tv! It seems a lot of those things can have a negative impact on today’s youth. Where do they learn about things they shouldn’t or use words that they shouldn’t either? W

Working at a church I want to have a positive influence on our youth. I want them to know it’s ok to unplug. I want them to know they can talk to me. I want them to know that they should treat each other with respect. Most of all, I want them to know they are a beloved child of God.

God is the one who cares deeply for all the world. God influences us all with God’s power. God loved us so much that God sent God’s one and only son into the world for all of us. God, and only God, had the power to overcome death. God and Jesus are who I want the youth I care about to turn too. I want them to be influenced by God’s love and to share that love even with those who are different than them. Who

Grief and Joy

“Grief and joy work together to lead us to our one and only hope throughout every page of our story.” This quote and post from InCourage have been sitting with me for the last few days. The author’s words have been such a gift to me as I head into 2019 focusing on my one word of heal. (You can read that post here: https://www.incourage.me/2019/01/finding-hope-in-all-the-pages-of-our-stories.html)

Joy comes in the midst of grief! Joy finds a way to the surface. One of my favorite Scripture verses is from Psalm 30:5. “Weeping may come for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” The nights may seem to be long but joy always comes with the morning.

In the midst of this past year, I have realized how important that joy is. How important it is to spend time with those we love. How important it is to do the things that bring us joy and love. It is not lost on me how much my sweet kitty Luna needed to be rescued but in a lot of ways has rescued me too. I am so glad that we found each other. The silly things she does like hiding in a drawer, or jumping up behind the sink or chasing a toy bring a smile to my face.

As we grieve, it is hard to find joy. It is hard to uncover those memories that make us laugh or smile because it is so painful to recall them. Yet when we finally uncover them, we realize the gift there is in remembering together; the gift there is in celebrating the beautiful memories that have been shared together.

Recently I was reading Bob Goff’s latest book Everybody, Always when I came across this quote: “God has surrounded me with countless people, just like He has you. Plenty of those people are trustworthy lights who point me to Jesus through our relationships. Find those people in your life and lean on them a little. Be more vulnerable and transparent than you think you have the wheels for. Do it anyway. Sometimes when we ask God for an answer, He sends us a friend. Figure out who He’s already sent to you.”

The truth is that in the midst of grief, these lights seem to find a way to shine brighter than every before. I think of my friend who bought me coffee on my way home after Grandpa’s death or the many friends who expressed their condolences. And I believe it is because of these dear souls; our friends that we are able to be healed; not completely. Because grief will always be there. Grief will always find a way to the surface. Yet joy and grief can and do work together to remind us that we will never be left or forsaken.

You, my friends, have been that light for me. You have reminded me again and again that I am not alone. You continually shine God’s love in the midst of a broken world. And I am so incredibly thankful for all of you. Together, we can be healed when we live our lives as wounded healers who are called to hold each other in all of life’s joys and sorrows. Thanks be to God!

Linking up with Kelly and the Ra Ra linkup, Mary and Tell His Story, Holley and Coffee for your Heart, and Kristin and Porch Stories.

Better

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung over at our Five Minute Friday website. Today’s word prompt is “better.” We would love to have you join us.

“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere”  This song has been playing in my head since I heard the word prompt for this week. It’s an older song but I’ve always enjoyed it.

It is no surprise to anyone that 2018 was heavy and hard for me. So many losses. Yet I find hope in knowing that my friends and family who were lost this year are in heaven. My prayer is that 2019 will be filled with more joy and laughter than loss and grief….that it will be a better year.

Yet even in the midst of a heavy and hard year, I’m so thankful for people and things that made it somewhat better. My kitty Luna makes me smile and laugh. I’ve never seen a cat that loves water as much as she does. I’m thankful for friends who know when you need a pick me up. Books, tea and blankets make life better too.

My word this year is heal. I want to come out of this year more whole than what I came into it. Grief won’t ever disappear but it will change over time. It’ll in some ways get better.

The Wounded Healer

I have always been a huge fan of Henri Nouwen. His books always seem to speak to me at the right time and place. Recently, I came across his book “Wounded Healer” and it seems so incredibly appropriate for my one word “heal”.

Nouwen writes, “Nobody escapes being wounded. We all are wounded people, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. The main question is not ‘How can we hide our wounds?’ so we don’t have to be embarrassed, but ‘How can we put our woundedness in the service of others?’ When our wounds cease to be a source of shame, and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers.”

“Jesus is God’s wounded healer: through his wounds we are healed. Jesus’ suffering and death brought joy and life. His humiliation brought glory; his rejection brought a community of love. As followers of Jesus we can also allow our wounds to bring healing to others.”

When 2018 began, I had no idea how heavy and hard it would be. Then in March, my friend Ben died. Shortly after that, a beloved seminary professor Ralph Quere. Then Ben’s brother Aaron followed by my friend and youth ministry colleague Rachel. Not long after Rachel, it was my friend Paul’s wife Stephanie and then our beloved family friend Jim. Then in December, my beloved Grandpa Wilbert. It seemed I would just catch my breath and then news of another death would come my way. In my 40 years of life, I never expected 2018 to be filled with so much loss and grief; too many deaths way too unexpectedly.

Recently a friend asked me, “Are you becoming a grief expert?” I sat back reflecting on her words. I don’t want to be a grief expert, but the more I think about I think I might be. I have learned so much about loss and grief in my 40 years of life. I have learned what loss and grief look like after an unexpected job loss or a death. In all actuality, grief is the changing of a relationship. It is a hymn, a broken pair of sunglasses, an unopened Christmas card and so much more. In addition, I have experienced grief through living as the daughter of a woman who lives daily with a mental illness.

According to Wikipedia, the theology of the cross is a term coined by theologian Martin Luther to refer to theology that posits the cross as the only source of knowledge concerning who God is and how God saves. In other word, only God has the power to save Christ from the depths of the grave. Only God has the power to overcome death and the grave. “Easter says you can put death in the grave, but it won’t stay there (Clarence W Hall).”

My hope is to come out of 2019 much more whole than what I went into this year. The reality is that I am a wounded healer who can be a shoulder to cry on, who can stand with others in their own grief and so much more. In the words of Henri Nouwen, my own losses and grief have made me a wounded healer called to share God’s love with the world.

As a wounded healer, I am seeing myself and the world with a new set of lens.

“I had my own notion of grief. I thought it was the sad time that followed the death of someone you love. And you had to push through it to get to the other side. There is no pushing through. But rather, there is absorption. Adjustment. Acceptance. And grief is not something you complete, but rather you endure. Grief is not a task to finish and move on, but an element of yourself–an alteration of your being. A new way of seeing. A new definition of self.” (Gwen Flowers)

Linking up with Kelly and the Ra Ra linkup and Mary and Tell His Story!

Sunday Blessings 236-239

(1) A great Sunday School program!

(2) 90 plus Gingerbread Houses decorated and taken home! 🙂

(3) Fun Christmas surprises. Thanks everyone for the awesome gifts!

(4) Enjoying and cooking in my new kitchen!

(5) Confirmation fun with Christmas trivia with AA and NL.

(6) Getting home safely to Ashley!

(7) BA gifting me with coffee and a coffee gift card for the return home!

(8) Nice weather for Grandpa’s funeral. (Christmas week, it was hard to find blessings in the midst of grief but I did find some!)

(9) Staying at Aunt P and Uncle T’s house!

(10) Lots of compliments on my eulogy for Grandpa. One of the hardest things I have ever done.

(11) Youth Workers Christmas gathering at CT’s house!

(12) A fun new Nativity mug

(13) Hugs from LT

(14) Family traveling to Ashley for the funeral.

(15) KUCHEN!!!

(16) Dad sending a Christmas tin of popcorn home with me.

(17) Snuggles from Luna because she missed me!

(18) KD and RD taking care of Luna while I was gone.

(19) My Slate Speak and Five Minute Friday peeps!

(20) Hanging with KD, DD and RD and friends. Supper at OG and lots of other fun!

(21) A prayer shawl from our churchs prayer shawl ministry.

(22) Ribs from DB

(23) Coffee with KG

(24) Sweet notes from parishioners

(25) Great book study and conversation at JC’s house

(26) Talking to Grandma on the phone

(27) Discern by Doing Group

(28) Sweet parishioners who gifted me a ticket to a local hospice event

(29) Golden Globe Awards

(30) Awesome winter weather..In the 40s

The Great Physician (Revealing my 2019 One Word)

“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”–Romans 8:38-39

My friend Lindy shared this Scripture with me the other day and it couldn’t be more perfect. When 2018 started, little did I know how hard and heavy it would be. First my dear friend Ben died, then a beloved seminary professor Ralph, then Ben’s brother Aaron, then my friend Rachel, then Stephanie, then our dear family friend Jim and finally my beloved Grandpa Wilbert. It seemed I would just catch my breath and then I’d learn of yet another unexpected death. It was all so much!

In the midst of it all, I’ve learned and experienced the great cloud of witnesses. I won’t soon forget many colleagues and friends gathered around our friend Bens urn as we commended him to God’s care. I also won’t forget standing around our friend Rachel’s casket as I had my arms around more friends.

I’ve learned over and over again what grief is. Grief is a broken pair of sunglasses, a hymn and so many other things. It’s an unopened Christmas card/gift. It ebbs and flows. Grief changes us too. I love this quote that Lindy also shared with me.

“I had my own notion of grief. I thought it was the sad time that followed the death of someone you love. And you had to push through it to get to the other side. There is no pushing through. But rather, there is absorption. Adjustment. Acceptance. And grief is not something you complete, but rather you endure. Grief is not a task to finish and move on, but an element of yourself–an alteration of your being. A new way of seeing. A new definition of self.” (Gwen Flowers)

I’ve been changed this year because I knew and loved these dear souls. I am seeing things with a new set of eyes. Because of this, I am so ready for a new year. Ready to leave 2018 behind and ring in 2019 which means I’m ready for a new one word.

I often pray and ask God to lead me to my word. This year I had several words that came to my mind. But when I knew my word was my word, it was so clear. God definitely led me to my new word.

My new word for 2019 is heal. Now I know I won’t heal completely from this years losses. But my word will hopefully help me to continue to evolve and see life differently from all these losses. Heal will help me to continue to grieve when I need too.

Heal also will come through the people and places I surround myself with. Luna has been such a gift and a joy. I know she will continue to be. I’m also so incredibly blessed by the people God has placed in my life too. People who have held me in my tears and rejoiced with me in my joys too.

Healing also I believe will come in trying some new hard things; like respite foster care which I truly believe God has called me too. Living out God’s call for my life hopefully will continue to heal me too.

2019 will be more than a bandaid, but will be the healing I need; the healing that only comes from our great physician; God our creator.

I am linking up with Kelly, Mary, Sue, and Kristin this week!

My Hygge Year

After a long week, I’m now curled up on my couch with my sweet kitten Luna sprawled out on my lap. It’s these little things…my kitten, my blankets, my warm house that brung comfort to me. And last night and this morning, I got to spend time with dear friends that are comfort to me too.

When I began 2018 choosing the word hygge, I had no idea what that word meant. I did some research and found out it basically means contentment. After this year, hygge means so much more than contentment to me. It means home. It means hope. It means peace. It means knowing I am never alone.

Little did I know that 2018 would be a year of deep loss and grief. First my dear friend Ben, then a beloved seminary professor Ralph, than Ben’s brother Aaron, then Rachel, then Stephanie, then our dear family friend Jim and finally my beloved Grandpa Wilbert. So to say I’m ready for 2018 to be over is an understatement.

In the midst of such deep loss and grief, I’m rediscovering what is important. Time with those we love is so important. I’m trying to honor time as well. 2018 has taught me that hygge is so much more than contentment.

Hygge is loving my friends and family and spending quality time with them. Hygge is ladies who leave a prayer shawl in my office after Grandpas death. Hygge is honoring your grandpa by writing a poem and giving the eulogy at his funeral. Hygge is snuggling up with a sweet kitty on your lap. Hygge is peace embodied.

As a new year begins, Hygge will stick with me as a reminder of what’s important. Hygge will be lived out every day. Hygge has taught me so much this year. But I’m ready for a new year; a new beginning!

Come back tomorrow to learn what my new one word will be for 2019!

Pondering

“But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)

Today has not been easy. In fact, it’s been anything but easy. My grief is heavy. I miss my Grandpa.

And 2018 has been filled with so much death; so much grief. My heart is slowly being pieced back in little ways. And in the midst of my grief, I’m trying to find glimmers of joy. I’m pondering much like Mary.

What I do know is these people, these memories I hold so dear are to be cherished; are to be held in my heart. But more than ever, I need this holy child to come and stir up his power.

Emmanuel; God with us!

Holy is the One

“For the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”–Luke 1:49

Holy is the One who called my grandpa home this morning.

Holy is the One who has blessed me with awesome friends and prayer warriors.

Holy is the One who has held me so many times this year in the midst of grief.

Holy is the One whose son comes as Emmanuel; God with us.

Holy is the One who wipes away every tear.

Holy is the One who calls us to seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God.

Holy is the One who overcomes death and brings about hope.

Holy is the One who calls me….calls all of us by name.

Holy is the One! Redeemer, Creator, Lord

Messiah, king of kings, Emmanuel.

“For onto us is born in the city of David a savior, the Messiah.”

For all the World

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung over at our Five Minute Friday website. Today’s word prompt is “with” We would love to have you join us.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”–John 1:1

Joseph was with Mary

The angel told him

Not to be afraid.

Mary

With child

Traveled to Bethlehem

With Joseph.

There was no room

For them in the inn

So a meager manger

Was offered them.

Jesus

The newborn king

The Word made flesh

Born among the straw

With animals all around

Sheep, donkeys, and so much more.

Wisemen came from afar

Bearing gifts;

Gold, frankincense and myrrh

Presents fit for royalty

Fit for a newborn king.

The star in the East

Had led them

To the manger.

Amidst the straw

With Mary and Joseph

Jesus

The Word made flesh

Emmanuel

God with us

Broke into the humanity

Of the world

Bringing hope

For all the world.

I was over at the Mudroom earlier this week and I’d love for you to come visit me there if you haven’t already stopped by. http://mudroomblog.com/piercing-the-silence/